HK spurns Vivienne Westwood exhibition

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 February, 2005, 12:00am

Government officials say local people would not have been interested in work of the British fashion icon

A chance to stage a Hong Kong exhibition featuring the work of British fashion icon Vivienne Westwood was rejected because government officials thought it would not appeal to local people.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London approached the government recently on staging an exhibition but the Leisure and Cultural Services Department rejected the proposal because it did not 'fit the taste of Hong Kong people'.

Hong Kong is home to a number of Vivienne Westwood boutiques.

Mark Jones, director of the Victoria and Albert, revealed the incident yesterday as he announced in Hong Kong that an exhibition of 17th century Chinese porcelain, now showing in Shanghai, would be displayed at the London museum next year. The Shanghai and London exhibitions are being sponsored by Henderson Land, one of the three shortlisted bidders for the West Kowloon Cultural District project. But the porcelain display will not visit Hong Kong.

The Victoria and Albert, one of the world's leading art and design museums, houses prestigious collections of ceramics, furniture, fashion, glass, jewellery, metalwork, photographs, sculpture, textiles and paintings.

The Vivienne Westwood exhibition is the first retrospective look at the designer's work, chronicling her creations from the early days of punk to the present day.

It was the Victoria and Albert's major exhibition last year and is now on a tour that includes Shanghai, Dusseldorf in Germany, Sheffield in Britain, and possibly Taipei.

Mr Jones said they had asked Hong Kong on several occasions whether it would like to stage the exhibition.

'It is a pity. We would like our exhibitions to be seen in a number of places. We have asked on a number of occasions but museums in Hong Kong are not interested, it seems they're not ready to accept.'

He suspected financial considerations may have been behind the decision as Hong Kong had been asked to share part of the costs.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department said it had received four proposals from the Victoria and Albert in recent months.

'We do not think Vivienne Westwood and the other proposals appeal to the taste of Hong Kong people. We have already offered them our counter proposals. We are discussing these counter proposals now,' a department spokeswoman said.

Danny Yung Ning-tsun, programme director of the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture, said: 'Vivienne Westwood is an icon. It is a shame that it could not come to Hong Kong.

'The fashion industry is so important to this city, and it is an integral part of the creative industry which was highlighted by Tung Chee-hwa in his latest policy address.

'This incident simply showed the ignorance of some officials at the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.'